THE John West GAA Handball Féile na nGael 2022 takes place in Laois, Kilkenny and Carlow this weekend with over 60 club teams and around 320 players from all over the country.
The national and local Féile committees are delighted with the high number of registrations for this year’s Féíle, in all handball codes (40×20, 60×30 and Wall-ball), especially given the serious context disruption to handball in the previous two years due to Covid-19 restrictions.
It is one of the flagship events of the GAA, as it provides a platform for players, men and women, to showcase their talents at the national level. Laois are fielded by three clubs in this year’s Féile na nGael, with the action starting on Saturday at 10am in halls in the three host countries.
Prior to the start of competition at Laois venues, all players, mentors and coaches will participate in the Féile na nGael parades with GAA Handball President Dessie Keegan and Laois GAA Handball President Joe Brennan leading the parade in Ballacolla on Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. Meanwhile. Ger Dunne of the Killeshin Pipe Band will lead the parade to St Brigid’s Handball Club from St Abban’s Athletic Club also at 9.30am.
The Laois teams in action:
In the 2 Girls 40×20 division, Cullohill HBC will enjoy the home field advantage when they face very strong opposition from Breacach (Tyrone), Inis Oírr (Galway), Toonagh (Clare) and Mícheál Breathnach (Galway). This division promises to be hotly contested as each of the clubs involved have very high caliber players to rely on. Cullohill are hoping to go one step further than in 2019, when their two women’s teams performed brilliantly to reach the Division 1 and Division 3 plate finals, only narrow losses to Garryhill (Carlow) and Annaghdown (Galway) in their respective finals.
The Cullohill boys have been placed in Division 5 and the team will travel to Borris, Co. Carlow where they will face Mallow (Cork), Conna (Cork) and Mícheál Breathnach (Galway). Cullohill have seen recent success in the Féile men’s divisions with their teams winning Division 3 in 2017 and Division 4 in 2018. Hopefully the Cullohill team of 2022 can fulfill their potential this weekend and challenge their opponents Munster and Connaught for the division. 5 title.
St. Brigid’s, Monavea entered two men’s teams in this year’s Féile. Youth handball has been making a resurgence at the club lately, and both teams will be optimistic of looking good in their respective divisions. St. Brigid’s A team travel to Tinryland, County Carlow where they will play in Division 6 against Corduff (Monaghan), Ballydesmond (Cork) and Nenagh (Tipperary). St. Brigid’s B team will enjoy home advantage in a highly competitive Division 7 with matches against Clonduff (Down), Kells (Meath), Maynooth (Kildare) and Abbeyside (Waterford) to look forward to. St. Brigid’s last Féile Division title was in 2001 when their side won the Division 3 title, so both teams will be hoping to close a gap of more than 20 years this weekend.
Clough Ballacolla has proven to be a powerhouse in wall-ball handball at youth level and, along with Cullohill, will share hosting duties for all the wall-ball action at this year’s Féile. Clough Ballacolla’s men’s team enter this year’s competition aiming to complete a remarkable three in a row after winning the previous two Division 1 Wall-Ball titles in 2018 and 2019. If they want to win all three in a row they will have to overcome strong opposition from Clann Eireann (Armagh), Laochra Láimhe na Modhscoile (Limerick), Naomh Eanna (Antrim) and Abbeylara (Longford).
Clough Ballacolla women’s side were very unfortunate in 2019 not to win the Division 1 title. This year’s side will be hoping to capitalize on home advantage when they face Abbeylara (Longford), Kilfane (Kilkenny ), Clann Eireann (Armagh) and Laochra Láimhe na Modhscoile (Limerick) in a very competitive division.
The Laois GAA handball wishes all the players participating this weekend every success in their matches. We hope that this year’s Féile na nGael will be an enjoyable and memorable experience for all participants. Laois GAA Handball would also like to thank the mentor and coaches of each of the clubs for their hard work and commitment in preparing the girls and boys for this year’s Féile na nGael.